In our modern world, we are exposed to pollution in our air, microplastics in our water, pesticides in our food, and other harmful toxins. Once in our bodies, these toxins are turned into compounds called “free radicals” and cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress negatively impacts our health by damaging our cells and DNA, and increasing inflammation. This damage can even lead to diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. When our DNA is damaged by free radicals, mutations can occur, resulting in the formation of tumors, which can be cancerous (source) and research has shown that an increase in oxidative stress has led to increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases (source). Aside from the increased incidence of disease, the cell, DNA, and protein damage from long-term oxidative stress from free radicals accelerates the aging process (source).
So what do we do? How can we fight free radicals in our bodies that, in some cases, we cannot avoid if we live in cities? Fight them by bringing balance back to the body with antioxidants!
Antioxidants are powerful compounds that disarm and neutralize free radicals in our body
Antioxidants are powerful compounds that disarm and neutralize free radicals in our body thus reducing oxidative stress on our cells, reducing inflammation, and halting the effect that free radicals have in promoting disease. One fruit that will help in this fight are strawberries. One of the beneficial compounds found in strawberries is called “fisetin.” Fisetin is a flavonol “which clears away dysfunctional senescent cells that accumulate with aging. Researchers believe that fisetin may be useful in increasing the healthy period of life known as healthspan” (source) and there are multiple studies “showing that it has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties in animals.”(source) This is a big deal. Because of these promising results, the Mayo Clinic is running further research to learn more about proper doses of supplementing fisetin and its effects. In the meantime, we can incorporate foods like strawberries and get our daily dose of fisetin naturally.
Strawberries are also accompanied by fiber, natural sugars, and water, making them a powerful fruit for overall health. Keep in mind that fruit, while key to a healthy diet, contain natural sugars so it is important to eat them in moderation. Stick to ½ a cup – 1 cup of strawberries a day to ensure that you are not messing with your blood sugar.
Free-Radical Fighting Smoothie
- ½ cup strawberries
- ¼ cup blueberries
- ½ cup hemp seed milk (or your favorite milk)
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (or chia seeds)
- 1 tablespoon almond butter (or your favorite nut butter)
- Optional: 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder
- Blend all your ingredients together in a high speed blender and enjoy!